Andrew Sullivan asks Jim Manzi a few questions, and Manzi responds:
To me this is just incredibly profligate.Â Itâ€™s like the justification for the Iraq War (in this way):Â â€œtrust us, it will pay for itself or close to it, we have to do it or face disaster, and we have to do it RIGHT NOW, stop raising all of these bothersome questionsâ€. We are a wealthy country, but not so wealthy that we can literally burn more than a trillion dollars decade after decade on something that can demonstrate no appreciable benefits.
Sure, it’s just like the Iraq War. Decades of science using data freely available to all and leading to a series of rigorous, skeptical, peer-reviewed analyses suggesting that action should be taken culminating in a legislative process that has spanned several years is exactly like the rushed, abbreviated, stove-piped false intelligence fueled push to attack Iraq. Manzi is a smart guy, but this is perhaps the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen him write. Moreover, he’s simply wrong. Decadal defense spending, for instance, is something like $4 trillion. I’d guess that perhaps half of that is pure waste or unnecessary spending. And we’ve been spending like this for decades.
And I’ll reiterate again that a) the costs of the legislation are likely overstated, b) Manzi is assuming that there will be no ancillary benefits to the legislation, and c) Manzi is assuming that after this legislation is passed there is no change in global warming policy in America thereafter, ever, for the next century. I don’t have a problem with people using Manzi’s analysis as a datapoint to consider in determining how they feel about Waxman-Markey, but you’d have to check your common sense at the door to buy his interpretation of it. You’d have to assume that the uncertain costs of an unprecedented climatic shift are likely to be no big deal and well within our ability to handle, while the rather mundane use of government policy to trim a bit off of consumption in an effort to prevent us from killing hundreds of millions of people is bound to be totally debilitating.